Sunday, November 30, 2008

Twilight (or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)

With this inaugural post on my new blog, I have a confession: I'm a fan of the Twilight books.

I first heard of them when Breaking Dawn came out and all the fuss was happening. Somehow I managed to miss it for years, though I admit to not being quite "on the pulse" of young adult literature. Once I had learned of it, I decided that I should give it a chance, since so many people went so crazy for it. Within a week I had read the series and enjoyed it thoroughly. It is almost guaranteed to be flash-in-the-pan writing, forgotten nearly as quickly as it was discovered, but most books are like that. This one at least had the advantage of being enjoyable.

The movie came out about a week ago, and I finally got a chance to see it. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this (bad memories of The Golden Compass dance through my head), but I was interested enough to seek it out. Having seen it, I have a few thoughts.

The camera work in this film was absolutely atrocious. At its best it's standard Hollywood fare with nothing particularly special going for it. At its worst, it actually distracts from the film. There are at least two instances of cheesy "bedroom shots," (though I believe both of these are in a forest) in which the camera pans up and away from the characters as though something were getting ready to happen that they couldn't show. Neither the facts from the book nor the context clues of the movie support any such claim and, in fact, directly contradict it. They may as well have used a PowerPoint-style screen wipe to switch to the next scene.

The score started out fine, but went downhill very quickly. In conjunction with the "bedroom shots" I just mentioned, the music would swell and emphasize a point that just wasn't there. This, in itself, is not an unforgivable crime, but when the choice of music is so bad, there is little mercy left in my heart. It sounded as though they had ripped off a Lifetime movie's soundtrack for its instrumentals.

Special Effects

This was one area in which this movie could have truly shined. I may be mistaken, but I believe there have been action scenes in the past which have made use of CGI to great effect, right? I'm not just imagining that? Honestly, I've seen better effects in SciFi specials (for the uninitiated, those are notorious for their bad effects). Had the movie been made for less, I would have understood and accepted this as a budgetary constraint. This movie cost $37 million to make, and it looks like they just put Pattinson on a skateboard in front of a green screen. Even in a fantastical situation like this, there's nothing natural about it.

Serviceable. Nobody brought their A-game, but it didn't look like anybody phoned it in either. As the /Filmcast said, the best performance came from Pattinson's hair, which also seems like where most of the money went.

In spite of all that, I actually enjoyed the movie. I like seeing a story I know shown on film. If I hadn't read and enjoyed the books, I doubt I would have liked this even a little bit, but as it is, I thought it was a perfectly fine movie. I'll probably see it again one day in the not-to-distant future.

Until next time, have fun.